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Amassus
11-14-2009, 09:50 PM
Hello all.

Lately I have been doubting aikido. It is difficult to put into words. I still enjoy training. However, I am now teaching young people (teenagers) aikido as an extracurricular activity at my High School. The questions they ask and the way they approach aikido bothers me.
Many approach the art in a competitive manner. They resist each other and get stubborn with the technique, forcing it to work. Some question the 'effectiveness' of the techniques (that old chestnut). Others find it too difficult and leave, expecting to do some cool stuff straight away. Taking time out of my normal teaching day to commit to these kids is starting to drain me.

As I reflect on this it gets me thinking on how I am presenting the art to them and why am I still training? Am I expecting too much of these guys?

I want to keep them excited about aikido but at the same time, the things that fascinate me about the art are the aspects of budo and self-development. How do I get this across?

As I write this I am beginning to think this post belongs in "Teaching". Feel free to move it admin.:rolleyes:

Any thoughts? I'm, feeling a little disheartened both in their training and mine.

ChrisHein
11-14-2009, 10:32 PM
I could be way off base here, but I would guess the doubts you are having are residual questions that you have never answered for yourself. Teenagers are great at brining these things to the forefront. They are always asking questions about the world around them. They do this because they know so little. And if you are unsure of anything, they will bring it out and make you look at it.

Starting with practicality: "does Aikido work", is the first question they are going to ask, because it's the most obvious. If you have not answered this fully for yourself, they are going to pick at you. They are going to test it and try to prove you wrong. They are only doing this because they want to understand. The exhaustion you are feeling is a result of things you yourself have glossed over in the past. You are now being forced to deal with these things, and you might not like the answers you are getting back.

As "full blown" adults, we can see that things have many facets. It's easy to let somethings go in order to get others. We learn this as we mature. However for teenagers the world is a little more one dimensional. If they can't understand how it works, in the way they think it should (to fight people using magic) they won't settle down and find the other things that are beautiful.

You appreciate Aikido as a way of self-development. That's a lofty understanding that you have. these kids can't get there yet. So you'll have to explain Aikido so they can understand it. You'll have to tell them how they can use it in a fight, because that's all they can (at this point) understand it to be. After that, they will come to appreciate Aikido's other aspects.

I personally have a very well developed idea of how Aikido works. When children ask me, I can explain it to them, and show them how they can use it when resisting each other. This is what you have to find for yourself. Then it will be easy. The hard part is learning to answer the question they are asking, and not trying to force your own answers onto their questions.

Linda Eskin
11-14-2009, 10:48 PM
I think I heard two frustrations in your post. Maybe I not reading it right... On one hand, it seems that you are frustrated with not being able to evoke in your students the same passion for the practice that you feel. But on the other hand, you seem to be questioning why you are training in Aikido, personally. I can give you some ideas about the former, at least...

In my job (not at all budo-related) I am always preaching the importance of setting the customer's expectations, so when they choose what you have to offer, they are happy with what they get.

Case in point, you can buy "Belly Flops" which are Jelly Bellies rejects. Misshapen, stuck together, etc. Where one might be disappointed to find those in a bag of regular Jelly Bellies jelly beans, it's delightful to intentionally purchase a whole bag of of the weird little candies. The delight is all in the correct expectation.

Have these kids "chosen" Aikido, with full awareness of the budo and self-development aspects of the art? Or do they think they signed up for some cool MMA program? Do they have to be there (required to participate)? I don't think the problem is with your teaching, or your students, or Aikido. It just may be that these students really need to be in another kind of program, and you need to find a way to attract the sort of students who would be really turned on about the aspects of Aikido that you love.

How are you attracting them to the program? For example, are the words "Martial Art" on the flyer (assuming there is a flyer)? Does it look like an invitation to join a yoga class or taoist sanctuary, and invite the students to discover their inner warrior and develop discipline? Or does it show a pair of hakama'd yudansha, with one in mid-throw? (Nevermind whether there's an actual flyer or not. I'm sure you can see my point.)

Perhaps spend one full session discussing what Aikido has to offer, and explaining what the semester/year might look like. Let them know it's a difficult art, with a lot of depth, and will require a lot of mindful work on their part. Set their expectations for what you have to offer, and let them know there is no disgrace in leaving if they see that they are in the wrong place. I'm going to guess most of them would be excited to be part of a group that's doing some serious work, and not just fighting for show. You might lose a few, but they'll know what Aikido is, and may come back to it another time.

Abasan
11-15-2009, 12:27 AM
Because teaching is learning. The only thing I can say is that, don't try to give them what you think they want. (actually you could if you wanted to, I just don't think it'll be good for you or them in the long run).

Stay true to yourself and hope for the best. We have an old saying, you can lead a cow to the lake, you can't make him drink it. We also have another saying, pearls before swine, but its too harsh to think about your students that way. :P

Amassus
11-15-2009, 01:05 AM
Thanks for your replies.
You are now being forced to deal with these things, and you might not like the answers you are getting back.



Well, as for whether or not aikido works? I am comfortable with my ability to protect myself using aikido. However, this requires practising with a certain mentality that may require maturity?

You appreciate Aikido as a way of self-development. That's a lofty understanding that you have. these kids can't get there yet. So you'll have to explain Aikido so they can understand it. You'll have to tell them how they can use it in a fight, because that's all they can (at this point) understand it to be. After that, they will come to appreciate Aikido's other aspects.


I think you may be onto something here.

Set their expectations for what you have to offer, and let them know there is no disgrace in leaving if they see that they are in the wrong place.
This is a volunteer activity at the school. However, many students have dropped out over the course of the year. Those who remain are dedicated, determined young people. As I read the replies I think I may have answered my own question. I need to communicate my ideas of aikido to them more fully.

Does it look like an invitation to join a yoga class or taoist sanctuary, and invite the students to discover their inner warrior and develop discipline? Or does it show a pair of hakama'd yudansha, with one in mid-throw?
This opened my eyes. I have been focussing on high breakfalls and exciting stuff because I think that is what they want, but for my aikido, this stuff is secondary and supports loftier goals. There in lies the internal conflict I am having.

I need to have a chat with my aspiring aikidokas about how I am feeling about their training and let them know that the techniques are the surface stuff.

Thank you all for helping me clarify things :)

Mark Uttech
11-15-2009, 04:23 AM
Onegaishimasu, if I may add my own reflections, I have read that "doubt creates ghosts in the dark". There are different expectations regarding age and aikido. Teenagers constantly question and challenge because they do indeed want to understand. They also are human so they want to "use" things and wiggle out of being used by things. Your own passion and enthusiasm is what you have to study. This is nothing but the natural growth of aikido.

In gassho,

Mark

Marc Abrams
11-15-2009, 08:15 AM
Dean:

"Do" means "A Path" and not "The Path." Aikido is not a path for everybody. It is interesting to note that people who studied under the founder engaged in those very struggles at the hombu dojo. Allowing people to discover their own path, as frustrating as it might be for all involved, is an important aspect of our life path's.

Be honest and sincere in what you do. Being honest about having doubts and insecurities is part of the whole "package." Some of your students will benefit from your teachings. Some will not. All will have been impacted by having to experience what you have brought to the table.

Good Luck!

Marc Abrams

heathererandolph
11-15-2009, 10:25 AM
With these high schoolers, you really need to take control or they will walk all over you! Taking control is allowing their input, but in a constructive manner. I think this could be a very constructive learning experience for you. Setting some ground rules is always very helpful with new students. Especially since they are all new, they don't have higher ranking students as an example.

You can't allow them to be constantly questioning you as to whether Aikido "works" or not during class. I think you shouldn't be afraid to try new things, new approaches, understanding that they may not be able to commit a life time to learning Aikido. They are at that point where your influence on them can be invaluable. In Aikido we learn how to face and to deal with conflict.

There are so many stressors on teenagers. It could be helpful to give each student an opportunity to tell a short story of a time when they faced a challenge. You can alternatively ask them to write it down and you can use those stories as class material. There is conflict everywhere, standing before the classroom to give a speech, being threatened by another student, they will surely have some interesting stories!

I wouldn't assume they want self-defense, like Chirs said their world is small right now and that is one thing that may appeal to them that they are aware of. I think you should focus on your strength, if the Budo aspect of Aikido is what you like most about it, then I'd focus on that. You just need to find a way to relate it to them that they can relate to now. Just try to take stock of the things that you tried that were successful, and the tiny successes you have. If something works you can do it again. If they leave happy then you have done your job! Let them know when they do something right. Try to stay positive!

crbateman
11-15-2009, 10:34 AM
Dean, preconceived notions by your young students goes with the territory. After all, if they already understood everything they need to know about Aikido, then what could you teach them? All you can do is lay out the facts and the training as best you can, and hope that some of them "get it", while accepting the fact that some of them won't. You cannot (nor can Aikido) be all things to all people.

Another thing I think is important is for you to reconcile your own commitment. Your students will be much more accepting of what you have to teach if you genuinely believe in it yourself.

Kevin Leavitt
11-15-2009, 11:10 AM
Great comments by all. I agree a young adults world is very small and very finite. Very black and white..and everything has to be measureable. Second and third order effects of actions never even probably enter their minds at this point.

Even in older adults this can be difficult.

Aikido taught by most I have experienced is a very esoteric and wide open methodology. Room for alot of interpretation and meaning....heck think about the discussions we have here on AIkiweb by very senior adults with lots of life experiences.

I personally don't believe beginners and especially kids, "young adults" as a whole are ready for such a ambigious and open ended exploratory practice as aikido.

I think they are better served with a very definitive and finite practice. Competitve models for these kids such as judo, I think, offer them something they can grasp on and measure themselves against. which is why you see such a popularity in these things.

that said, I think if you keep your aikido practice/model very basic...follow the path of judo to a certain degree, that the kids can probably relate to it alot better and experience a little more connection to the art.

One thing I learned teaching a inner city youth program a while back was that I had to realize that I am there to serve the kids...not for them to serve me.

As such, I modified my curriculum GREATLY in order to connect with them and met their physical and emotional needs.

It was not fun or challenging for me, nor did it remotely look like the art of karate I was taught...but it was what they needed.

NagaBaba
11-15-2009, 11:32 AM
Hello all.
Any thoughts? I'm, feeling a little disheartened both in their training and mine.
It is very easy problem to solve. You teaching methodology is not good, it must be changed.
You should teach them in following way:
1. Ask for strongest attack possible and do your technique without hurting them too much.
2. Ask for strongest resistance possible and do your technique without hurting them too much.
3. Teach them how to do a technique even if attacker deliver very strong attack
4. Teach them how to do a technique even if attacker deliver very strong resistance.
5. Once they have confidence in doing the techniques such way,start teaching them more sophisticated tools...

Kevin Leavitt
11-15-2009, 11:49 AM
Those are all good suggestions Szczepan.

However, if you are not reaching them or connecting with them on something they can grasp or understand, then doing it harder, stronger etc is not going to make it any better. It may just show them that you are bigger, stronger, and better than them.

I have had that happen before...they still won't believe in themselves and what you are doing is going to help them.

One thing i have done is put the ball in their court and ask them to define the parameters and the situations they are concerned about and then work with them on from this standpoint.

Again, nothing wrong with your recommendations, but I think there is an element that must occur in the relationship prior to this.

It is not just limited to martial arts...young adults and teenagers in general are simply going to challenge you for answers.

It could be an after school youth group, sex educations, drivers ed...it is the exact same issue...unless you can connect and relate to them from a position that they can appreciate, then no amount of teaching, regardless of how powerful, fast, good, or proficient is going to matter.

AsimHanif
11-15-2009, 11:57 AM
I agree with Szczepan. Most school age kids are extremely competitive and cynical so its a good test.
I found a few things that have worked for me to get their attention:
1- take down the biggest kid. Hopefully the one who is the star football player. After that you'll get their attention and can explain the need for learning how to fall/roll.
2- challenge them with ukemi (it has to be challenging so they'll feel slightly inadequate but have fun at the same time)
3- then show them something that they can do (so they can have a sense of accomplishment)
4- repeat as neccessary:-)

Kids are brutally honest. If your technique is not adequate...they'll def let you know.

chillzATL
11-15-2009, 12:12 PM
Hello all.

Lately I have been doubting aikido. It is difficult to put into words. I still enjoy training. However, I am now teaching young people (teenagers) aikido as an extracurricular activity at my High School. The questions they ask and the way they approach aikido bothers me.
Many approach the art in a competitive manner. They resist each other and get stubborn with the technique, forcing it to work. Some question the 'effectiveness' of the techniques (that old chestnut). Others find it too difficult and leave, expecting to do some cool stuff straight away. Taking time out of my normal teaching day to commit to these kids is starting to drain me.

As I reflect on this it gets me thinking on how I am presenting the art to them and why am I still training? Am I expecting too much of these guys?

I want to keep them excited about aikido but at the same time, the things that fascinate me about the art are the aspects of budo and self-development. How do I get this across?

As I write this I am beginning to think this post belongs in "Teaching". Feel free to move it admin.:rolleyes:

Any thoughts? I'm, feeling a little disheartened both in their training and mine.

First, it seems that you're expect adult reactions to Aikido from people who simply can't approach it that way. You can't let yourself be frustrated by this. It's no different than a sensei being frustrated because students come and go. The path is different for everyone, regardless of the art or style. Aikido and martial arts in general are not for everyone.

You also can't expect them to fall in love with the aspects of the art that you love. Again, the path is different for everyone. They may have the MMA view of martial arts and if that's all their willing to accept at this time, most styles of Aikido will likely not be for them, though depending on the style and how you train it could be. You can't change who they are, you can only offer some gentle direction and if they don't take it, that's all you can really do.

It's most kids nature to be competitive. I was hardly any different when I began training. A friend and I began training when we were about 16 years old, which was young by most standard in our dojo and organization. We came to Aikido with the proper mindset, but in our spare time we constantly tested each others technique. We weren't competing so much as seeing how far our technique had progressed and broadening our base. In the end it only made our Aikido stronger. This may or may not be the case for the kids you're teaching. You have to be the judge of that though. If you're not seeing that good spirited shugyo, then you need to talk to them. In the end, it simply may not be for them and there's little you can do for them to change that. As teenagers they will spend a good many years more finding their path in life. The exposure to Aikido that you've provided may stick with some of them. They may depart, only to return years later when they are mentally, physically and emotionally more ready to train.

Why would you be doubting your training? Are they presenting questions that you can't answer? Resisting your technique to the point that you doubt it yourself?

Don_Modesto
11-15-2009, 12:26 PM
Good comments.

From a teaching point of view...

Ugly truth: students often learn different things than the teacher teaches. Your path won't be theirs.

If something lacks validity, why would you waste time on it? If aikido as fighting is what's presented, then SHOULDN'T it work?

What other uses has aikido? I've fallen outside the dojo (many times) more than I've gotten into fights (never). UKEMI has pulled my chestnuts out of the fire more than once--falling off bikes, tripping playing frisbee, etc. Your kids skateboard or bike? Falling safely is a very useful skill. Can you run a class outside on rolling off a bike to make aikido relevant to their immediate needs?

They're kids. Competition comes with the territory. In a classroom, they compete to answer first.

The first time I teach a course is basically an introduction to me as to how I SHOULD teach it and will next time. I take notes.

My happiest students are the ones in classes where I test frequently (this is behind Kano Jigoro's introduction of the KYU/DAN system). Do you give "ability quizzes", graded or ungraded?

Just thoughts off the top of my head. Good luck.

Linda Eskin
11-15-2009, 12:27 PM
Another thought... I worked briefly as a Library Aid in a high school. Sometimes I would be in a position to work with the students directly, showing them how to use the computers, find books, etc..

A bit of background: I have had times myself when I became discouraged and gave up on something because I had a teacher who could not connect or communicate with me. As kids, we are pretty much taught that adults know what they are doing, and that if we don't get it, there's something wrong with us. Note the language used when a student doesn't "get it" in a class - we say "The student failed," not "The teacher failed to reach the student."

Back to the Library thing: When I'd work with students, I would often tell them point blank that I am not a trained teacher, and that if I (or anyone else) could not explain things in a way they could understand, they should not doubt themselves, but find someone else who could explain it in a way that worked for them.

It was truly amazing to watch their eyes light up ("Really?"). They were so grateful to hear an adult insist that the problem might not be with them. I was treating them with respect, and allowing for the possibility that I might not be all-knowing. They really appreciated that, and it seemed to create more respect for me, for being honest and having faith in them. They felt comfortable coming to me with even "stupid questions" (and would even bring friends over to me to ask for help) because they knew I wouldn't see them as stupid for not understanding something.

The conventional wisdom might be that one should try to be an authority figure, or the students will run roughshod over you, but I found that being honest and human worked just fine. Maybe you could open up a discussion with your students about "what do you want from this, and how can we work together to make this a meaningful program that makes a difference in your lives?"

Rob Watson
11-15-2009, 12:47 PM
When I'd work with students, I would often tell them point blank that I am not a trained teacher, and that if I (or anyone else) could not explain things in a way they could understand, they should not doubt themselves, but find someone else who could explain it in a way that worked for them.

Beauty. I'm totally stealing this one.

Linda Eskin
11-15-2009, 12:51 PM
Beauty. I'm totally stealing this one.

Awesome! Please do.

BTW, I love the line in your signature. :-)

Erick Mead
11-15-2009, 01:36 PM
As I reflect on this it gets me thinking on how I am presenting the art to them and why am I still training? Am I expecting too much of these guys?

I want to keep them excited about aikido but at the same time, the things that fascinate me about the art are the aspects of budo and self-development. How do I get this across?Young as they are start with something they can still relate to. If you learn how to run fast, you probably don't need to learn how to ride a bike to get someplace quicker than walking. If you learn how to swim you probably don't need to learn how to surf to get to shore. But learn to ride a bike or how to surf, and those tasks take on a completely different sensibility and larger significance. New possibilities com into view that are simply not conceivable in just running or swimming. And nobody ever learned how to ride a bike or surf by trying to physically dominate the wave or the bicycle, or by "outcompeting" them -- or other riders. Riding -- that is an excellent image, actually, it just occurs to me. Aikido does not best the opponent -- we simply ride him...

The nature of the physical difference in what the body does, though, is on the same order -- between ordinary wrestling/non-aiki-jujitsu as opposed to true aiki in aikido, as those biking and surfing are from running and swimming. If they put it that context -- they may grasp that it is the body needs to learn-- it is physical training not mental grasp that counts . Skating and skateboarding are other good examples. They may have greater patience to let the body catch on -- assuming you are showing them what a body needs to learn. If you show them how to make their own body disobey their commands in kokyu tanden ho -- then they may begin to grasp the significance of the difference

Buck
11-15-2009, 01:47 PM
Sounds like the question has been addressed, in this case this is simply a comment, FWIW.

This has worked for centuries in our human existance, thousands of times over.

* Have a mystery of things, includes secrets and stuff

* The sense of something unique and exotic

* Provide rewards for goals obtain

* Excite and ignite the imagination with romantic stories, with a sprinkle or two of white lies, focusing heroic things, deeds and morals

* Provide a difficult challenge from the start for the sake of appreication of the whole thing and everyone who made it

* Make membership special

* Show passion and importance in having and keeping a moral and ethical code that is simple to understand and is universal to all. Making them feel the code is special and worth following it, supporting it, and carry it on

* Don't drop the ball, keep these things alive, believe in it, and be earnest about it

!!!!!!! But don't take it all too seriously. Don't over due it. Keep things in perspective and in balance

Buck
11-15-2009, 02:12 PM
I would add too is to work toward the good of the students. Expect nothing from it, or them. Fior the purpose of avoiding that trap of wanting and having power over others.

lbb
11-15-2009, 03:52 PM
Great comments by all. I agree a young adults world is very small and very finite. Very black and white..and everything has to be measureable. Second and third order effects of actions never even probably enter their minds at this point.

Even in older adults this can be difficult.

I think before trying to solve the problem of retaining teenagers in aikido practice, you need to look at the larger problem of retaining people of any age in aikido practice. No matter what age group you're talking about, gender, educational level, socioeconomic class, any demographic you can name -- only a minority of people will be inclined to try aikido, and only a small fraction of that will still be training a year later.

It's not aikido, either. You'll find the same phenomenon in any martial art, or any other practice that dishes out frustration as well as fulfillment. Teenagers today -- and children, and adults -- have easy access to pastimes that will give them enjoyment and entertainment for a trivial investment in time and effort. Take computer games as an example: teams of software engineers strive to develop the most compelling experience possible, the market is jam-packed with excellent products (by this standard), all available for a trivial investment in time and money. Computer games are fun. They pass the time. They allow you to develop some form of "mastery" -- within the environment of the game -- quickly and easily. They give you something to talk about around the office water cooler. Of course they're wildly successful, and of course activities like aikido are much less so. For most people, comparing an activity like a computer game to a pastime where you never "win", you never solve level 200, you're never done, where you sweat, where it hurts for real when you screw up...it's a no-brainer.

Aikido taught by most I have experienced is a very esoteric and wide open methodology. Room for alot of interpretation and meaning....heck think about the discussions we have here on AIkiweb by very senior adults with lots of life experiences.

I personally don't believe beginners and especially kids, "young adults" as a whole are ready for such a ambigious and open ended exploratory practice as aikido.

I agree. It's a new experience for most people of any age, although as age advances, the chance that this person will have had some experience with a similar practice increases. With a young person, that chance is virtually nonexistent.

At the same time, however, there are always people (of whatever age) who are thirsting for the very lessons that this kind of practice teaches, even if they don't have a name for what they're seeking. They come to aikido with some notions about becoming a badass or learning "self-defense" or some claptrap about wanting "inner peace"; they stay for a practice that exposes them to the beauty of an endless pursuit. They learn to love the very things that the typical beginner finds so off-putting: they learn that "never get done" also means "never have to stop"; they learn that "never know it all" also means "never have to get stale". They learn that this kind of patience has incredible rewards, like the class where you have the bemused realization that at some point, without noticing it, something that was impossible in your first months became matter-of-fact.

These are pretty big epiphanies for people of any age, in a culture that values the quick fix and the low-commitment endeavor. Ultimately, it's what aikido has to offer, though, and I think you have to be true to it. How to do that? Beats me. You can't really lead with it explicitly -- this isn't a "tell" thing or even a "show" thing. It's something people have to experience for themselves, and they do that through practice.

heathererandolph
11-15-2009, 04:27 PM
Well, after reading the other posts especially the last one I was thinking that maybe a different mindset might help you. Think of this as doing something for yourself and your training rather than trying to interest a bunch of teenagers in something special. I actually think that having an adult take some interest in teaching them and your personality itself rather than Aikido which may impress them. Teenagers don't enough good role models and you are taking time from your day and voluntarily teaching young people in an art your love hoping that it will have the positive impact on thier life that it has had on yours. The questions they ask, those questions could be something that can propel your practice. I don'd see a problem with admiting that Aikido is an exploratory process in intself and that you do not have all the answers immediately, but you will find out. Working with any new students really tests your knowledge of Aikido as well as how to explain it to people.

Lyle Laizure
11-15-2009, 04:31 PM
Hello Dean,

I can appreciate your frustration. I began teaching Aikido in an after school program last year. I am teaching at 5 middle schools and 1 elementary school right now. The middle school children can be very challenging. But at the onset I decided to teach these participants the same as my own students. At the beginning of each session I let the students know up front that my class is not like their other school classes.

They all have questions and they all want to do the "fun" stuff. I tell them when they get the basics of falling safely we can do the "fun" stuff, i.e. the big falls etc. I explain very clearly that we will practice techniques slowly for safety reasons. When students want to practice with greater power or speed I invite them to do so with me. Generally, but not always, I will change the technique and perform something different and give the following explanation. "It is easy to defend against a technique when you know what technique is going to be done. Anyone can do that. It isn't so easy if you don't know what the technique will be. We aren't here to fight one another, we are here to learn from one another, we are not opponents we are partners." I also make it a point to define "onegaishimasu" so that everyone knows what is expected of them. When a student breaks those boundaries there is a swift consequence. Usually a sharp slap on the back of their head.

Turnover rate in these classes is high. Part of the reason for this is because a lot of these students aren't held to a high standard for their behavior. It is also in part due to "I want it now" attitude, not wanting to work for something to earn it.

Give it some time. You might be surprised who you reach.

brian p
11-22-2009, 03:25 PM
Hello all.

Lately I have been doubting aikido. It is difficult to put into words. I still enjoy training. However, I am now teaching young people (teenagers) aikido as an extracurricular activity at my High School. The questions they ask and the way they approach aikido bothers me.
<snip>
Any thoughts? I'm, feeling a little disheartened both in their training and mine.

I will offer some advice, with the caveat that I'm not an aikido person (I do bagua and some other things and teach bagua).

If I have someone who is concerned about the utility of my art I usually just demonstrate a bit more slowly, and emphasize the cruelty that can exist if that is needed.

If they still don't get it I just tell them.. "ok.. everyone please watch.. and you... HIT ME!"

Then I put them down with something that's off the wall and a bit weird.

Then we repeat it until they don't want anymore.

Basically the rationale is "I can make this work very well, and I say it works very well. I'm the (relative) subject matter expert on this mat and if you wish to disagree then we can test out your opinion".

I don't know how well this would work with minors/high school students. I only teach adults myself.

Learning WHY it works... well that's 1/2 the practice of a lifetime. The other 1/2 is HOW (physically) to make it work.

But that it does work.. is simple. Just say...

"HIT ME!". And then you scare the ever living crap out of them (without hurting them of course).

Kevin Leavitt
11-22-2009, 05:00 PM
There are a couple of problems that you don't address though.

On the Mat: that is all fine. You control the class, they accept you know more than them, you control the inputs and outputs when you are in charge. This is the issue I have with "Seminar Fu" by the way. Everyone can look good on the mat and make someone else look bad. You can even scare the crap out of them too.

However, when they get off the mat...then it don't work so well for them...then that is why they doubt it. it ain't on the mat that is the problem. It is when they go off and tell their friends, "hey grab my wrist". and then the friend pops a whole bunch of new variables outside of the equation than what you are dealing with on the mat.

In short, you have failed to give them anything that they are able to use off the mat.

This is why they doubt it...plain and simple.

They accept the fact that you are "good". They accept the fact that you are an authority and you are credible (to a point obviously), however, what they don't accept is that they can't do it.

Then comes the whole 20 years of practice logic, and "patience Daniel-San" stuff.

You fail to capture their expectations, imagination, and give them something that they can build a success on outside the dojo.

It is better I think, to build and offer them a sound foundation in which to build upon. Give them something that they can use immediately and can integrate into their daily lives. So when they get with their friends outside the dojo they are able to articulate and demonstrate what they are learning and why it is important.

Showing that you are superior to them and that you can use it in the dojo does not translate necessarily to them well unless they can do it as well IMO.

Janet Rosen
11-22-2009, 05:47 PM
I totally agree their concerns and questions need to be respectfully addressed AND they need to come away with measurable progress in things that are of value to them...yet I'm also surprised nobody has come out and suggested that the students need to be told upfront that most of what they are learning are preset forms, kata, hence resistance IS possible in that context etc....

brian p
11-22-2009, 07:09 PM
If people are "horsing around" outside of class then that is not Sensei's problem or concern (except to advise against it).

If people have doubts about their training because they are trying to make something out of getting p0wned while horsing around outside of class then they really missed the point.

Kevin Leavitt
11-22-2009, 07:31 PM
Not necessarily Brian. (Horsing around that is). All kids are going to want to test, experiment, and try things out. It is natural.

It is also why I think the traditional curriculum for Aikido is not a good one for this age. They are not ready to handle it.

But, foundational skills, basic things such...well what is found in judo are good ones. Hence why I think Judo is a good art to start kids out on.

There is no reason why a modified curriculum could not be taught in this way and still be within the parameters of AIkido.

Things like nikkyo, kotegaeshi etc, I agree.

And I think Janet's comments WRT to these things as a part of kata are good ones and that most kids with the maturity to study might understand that point.

Amassus
01-21-2010, 02:01 AM
Hello all.

Thanks for all the advice. There is some good stuff there.
Just giving you an update. 2009 ended with just five students training. However, four of them are in their first year of High School so I have five years with them. These kids are great. They are dedicated, hard-working and all the while working under fairly traditional dojo instruction. For example I expect the mats to be out and ready by the time I enter the Recreation Centre we train at and we all put the mats away at the end. If I am late, they should already be starting warm-ups. The main reason for this is my other commitments to school meetings and the like. It is a tight squeeze to my timetable but the kids understand and respect this.

I have had two discussions with them concerning my point of view on aikido and it made a hugh difference to their attitude. Never underestimate what young people can handle. They have stepped up and have more maturity than some of the teenagers at my own club's regular classes. My expectations of them are high as they represent me when they go to grade at the club. They know this and they make me proud.

Do I doubt my training now? No. I don't think it was ever about my own training in the end. It was about me communicating well with these kids so they could see my side of the situation.

The funny thing is, my regular Science classes run very differently to my aikido classes, but I'm still teaching teenagers. Go figure.

Arigato.
Dean.

Janet Rosen
01-21-2010, 03:25 AM
Dean - thank you for the update! Sounds like it is working out well.

ChrisHein
01-21-2010, 10:50 AM
Great!

Phil Ingram
01-22-2010, 06:15 PM
Hi ya Dean :)

I come from a small town in England where aikido is practiced alot next to judo, when i was a child i tryed Aikido and the moves that where shown i did not get where where the kicks and punches etc i did not have the maturity to understand the subtle skill my teacher had to defend him self with.

So do not be disheartened,now as a adult i can look back and see what that teacher was talking about all those years ago :) i have even thought about emailing him and telling him i have started aikido.

Some kids want the quick fix they watch Steven Segal, Jackie Chan, etc and want to do those kind of moves but they don't understand to do those kind of moves you need a good core of basic skills and that is true with any martial art :)

regards
Phil

iron horse
01-22-2010, 09:35 PM
It is very easy problem to solve. You teaching methodology is not good, it must be changed.
You should teach them in following way:
1. Ask for strongest attack possible and do your technique without hurting them too much.
2. Ask for strongest resistance possible and do your technique without hurting them too much.
3. Teach them how to do a technique even if attacker deliver very strong attack
4. Teach them how to do a technique even if attacker deliver very strong resistance.
5. Once they have confidence in doing the techniques such way,start teaching them more sophisticated tools...

I was going to comment, but you read my mind.

Leon Aman
01-30-2010, 05:53 AM
However, if you are not reaching them or connecting with them on something they can grasp or understand, then doing it harder, stronger etc is not going to make it any better. It may just show them that you are bigger, stronger, and better than them.

One thing i have done is put the ball in their court and ask them to define the parameters and the situations they are concerned about and then work with them on from this standpoint.

It is not just limited to martial arts...young adults and teenagers in general are simply going to challenge you for answers.

It could be an after school youth group, sex educations, drivers ed...it is the exact same issue...unless you can connect and relate to them from a position that they can appreciate, then no amount of teaching, regardless of how powerful, fast, good, or proficient is going to matter.

I completely agree with this.

Leon